Buyer or Seller?
Last year many fans believed that the Oakland A’s and the Baltimore Orioles sneaked into the playoffs. Most thought there would be a return to reality in 2013. Apparently the reality is that both teams are pretty good. The O's are 58-48 and the A’s are currently 62-43 and have a five game lead in the AL West. The A’s have been linked to the likes of Jake Peavy in recent days, although that seems unlikely at this point, but the A’s are certainly buyers, with several needs.
What They Need
Of the things the A’s need, it does not appear that pitching is one of them.
As of today, the A’s lead the American League in ERA (3.60) and WHIP (1.19). They are second to the Detroit Tigers in Quality Starts with 64. They trail only the Tampa Bay Rays in Batting Average Against (.241). It’s interesting that Oakland is atop the league in most pitching categories, yet they rank 12th
in the league with just 6.86 strikeouts per nine innings.
Yet, the A’s were believed to be a leading candidate for Jake Peavy. Is it possible they are just planning for a time without All-Star Bartolo Colon? The A’s bullpen is led by former Twin Grant Balfour. Pat Neshek has been good for them as well. They may want some bullpen depth.
As strong as the A’s pitching is, the hitters have been no better than league average. As a team, they are hitting .243 (11th
), with a .694 OPS (11th
). The outfield is strong with Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Chris Young. The left side of the infield is good, with Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie. However, the A’s could use up-grades at 2B (Eric Sogard) and catcher (Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt).
What Might Work
With Jared Burton, Casey Fien, Brian Duensing and other bullpen arms likely available, there could be a match with the A’s.
It may make some sense for the A’s to consider a veteran influence such as Jamey Carroll in their infield. He might be an upgrade to current utility man Adam Rosales.
The A’s system appears to be pretty middle-of-the-pack. Young shortstop Addison Russell is at the top of the list, but he likely is not available, even in a Glen Perkins deal. So, here are some guys the Twins could realistically target.
2B Chris Bostick (Low-A)
The A’s took infielder Chris Bostick with their 44th
round pick in 2011 out of high school in Rochester, New York. To say he has been a pleasant surprise is an understatement. This year at Beloit, the 20 year old is hitting .293/.368/.488 (.855) with 19 doubles, seven triples, 13 home runs and 76 RBI. He is also 21 of 28 in stolen base attempts. The Twins actually have a nice group of middle infield prospects at this time, but based on history, it never hurts to add more.
SP Seth Streich (Low-A)
Streich is a Twins-type of pitcher. He was drafted last year out of Ohio University. This year, he is 10-5 with a 3.78 ERA for the Snappers. In 104.2 innings, he has given up 107 hits, but he’s walked just 39. He’s also struck out only 81. Not a real high ceiling here, but enough command of three pitches to have a chance to move up. He also is aware of the Twins farm system as his brother Tobias was in the minor leagues from 2009 through spring training of 2012.
C Bruce Maxwell (High-A)
At 6-2 and 235 pounds, Maxwell is a sturdy catcher. He was the A’s 2nd
round pick in 2012 out of Birmingham-Southern where he was a teammate of former Twins minor leaguer Drew Leachman. He began this season with the Beloit Snappers where he hit .286/.360/.387 (.747) with 14 doubles, two homers and 28 RBI. He was promoted to High-A Stockton recently and he’s hit .236/.310/.348 (.658) with four doubles, two homers and six RBI. He is known to be a very good defensive catcher with a strong arm.
SP Raul Alcantara (High-A)
Alcantara came to the A’s from the Red Sox organization in the Andrew Bailey deal. He began this season with Beloit and went 7-1 with a 2.44 ERA. In 77.1 innings, he walked just seven and struck out 58. He moved up to Stockton where he has gone 3-2 with a 3.28 ERA. In 35.2 innings, he has walked eight and struck out 27. His fastball sits anywhere from 90-95 mph, so there is some upside.
SP Sonny Gray (Triple-A / Majors)
Now, in a Glen Perkins deal, we know that Addison Russell is likely not available, and it may even be a bit optimistic to think that Sonny Gray would be either. He was the A’s first round pick in 2011 out of Vanderbilt. He raced through the A’s system. This year, in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, he is 9-7 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. He has given up just five home runs in 112 innings (or one every 22 innings). He has made two appearances with the A’s, and has given up just two hits and a walk, while striking out six, in four innings.